Lihue, HI – Early this morning, the Kauai County Council passed landmark legislation that would create a new system to report and publicly disclose pesticides used on the island. The victory came despite pressure from some of the world’s largest pesticide corporations, many of which use land on Kauai to develop and field test their genetically engineered (GE) seeds and pesticide products.
A few weeks before this vote, Governor Neil Abercrombie attempted to slow the Council’s decision, promoting weaker legislation that would have relied on voluntary reporting. That effort highlighted the power that local governments in Hawaii, and only a handful of other states posses. In most states, pesticide corporations successfully passed laws to preempt local power years ago.
In response to passage of Bill 2491, Jennifer Ruggles — PAN’s Hawaii organizer based on Kauai — issued the following statement:
“The Kauai County Council deserves praise for overwhelmingly passing a bill that supports and protects the interests of residents, despite pressure from DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta and the rest of the world’s largest pesticide and genetically engineered seed corporations. Today’s victory underscores that a handful of corporations can’t keep people in the dark.
The passage of the bill will ensure that physicians, families and farmers can learn about what pesticides are being applied on the island and take additional steps to protect themselves from exposure. In addition, buffer, or protection zones, will help reduce risk of exposure for some of the most vulnerable members of the Kauai community.
Today’s victory should encourage other communities to stand up for their right to know about pesticide use; they should pass laws that encourage greater pesticide use disclosure or push back against state laws that limit local rights.”